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Sunday 10 February 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes - making them without red food dye!

Here be the account of my first crack at red velvet cupcakes.. without red food colouring... just in time for Valentines Day!  Apparently, aside from being a leavening agent when it reacts with baking soda (think grade 2 volcano experiments with less mess baking up in your oven), vinegar also will react with cocoa powder to produce a red tinge.  This won't leave you with radioactive in your face red cupcakes, but rather a light reddish tinge to your mainly brown cupcakes.  Also, don't use super high quality unprocessed Dutch cocoa powder... the darker the cocoa, the darker your cupcakes subsequently will be (as I soon found out)...
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add 1Tbsp of either lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let sit 5min.  It'll smell gross, but voila, you have simple buttermilk with the required amount of acidity in it.  I like using fresh lemon juice to make mine, mainly cuz I always have a lot of lemons kicking around in the fridge to make lemonade, for adding in a bit of zing to salad dressings and sauces... and Costco sells huge bags for cheap :)  Anyways, I digress... here be the cupcakes coming out of the oven...

And frosted with some Betty Crocker's icing.  I was going to make some cream cheese icing from scratch, but was too lazy/frustrated after fiddling, and refilling my Wilton's tinny tiny decorating bag that came with the Wilton's decorating set with icing to make homemade icing... Got icing everywhere!!! I'm totally going out and buying a super dooper industrial sized icing bag like the one I left with my mom. After attempting to ice one cupcake by simply blobbing the icing out in spirals, I iced the rest in a prettier flower pattern: achieved by squeezing icing in a large "flower" pattern, then a smaller one on top and a tiny flower at the top... some looked great, others didn't lol!
I totally didn't clean out the icing bag between flavors and got a twist version lol!!
Oh yes, and sprinkles... got those everywhere too lol!

These cupcakes have a medium crumb, and I would say pretty dense, so don't be expecting a light fluffy cupcake.  And yes, these cupcakes turn out more brown/burgundy than the food colouring version.  If you like it super vibrant red, add in about 2-3 ounces of red liquid food colouring to the batch (though you may taste the food colouring.. you've been warned!).

Recipe that makes 20 cupcakes (I increased everything to make 30, but the recipe's for 20)
1/2 cup butter at room temp (tried it with cold butter and my arms hated me!) 
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar added into it for 5min) 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 tablespoon white vinegar 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the lighter the cocoa powder, the better the red colour will turn out) 
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter) 
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 muffin tins or silicone muffin molds (these bake cupcakes with higher tops) with 20 paper baking cups. 
2) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. 
 3) In separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder and salt (if using). Stir into the butter batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly. If you want muffin tops, divide evenly, if you don't like muffin tops on your cupcakes, fill only half way (and use more cupcake liners than 20 to finish up the batter if needed) 
4) Bake in the preheated oven (top rack) until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 19-20min. Pop them out of the pans (a skewer or toothpick off to the side works well) and cool on wire rack. (this prevents them from overcooking and drying out in pan). When cool, frost with frosting.

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